Hold and Feed Seahorses
Visitors to the Big Island of Hawaii should not miss the chance to visit the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm. Located just south of Kona’s airport, this unusual aqua farm houses thousands of raised-in-captivity seahorses. With daily tours available, you’ll have the chance to feed and even hold seahorses and learn about how they live.
Saving the Seahorse
Millions of seahorses are taken from reefs every year, many for home aquariums. Heartbreakingly, wild seahorses mate for life and once removed from their mate they die within weeks. Capture from their reef is a virtual death sentence for these seahorses.
Ocean Rider breeds seahorses that can live solo or in groups in aquariums. These seahorses eat readily available food (seamonkeys!) and yes, you can buy one or more for your own fish tank for about $100-$200. By breeding the seahorses at the farm, Ocean Rider is creating an alternative to wild capture of seahorses, and raising seahorses that live a long, happy life in your aquarium.
The Seahorse Farm Tour
Tours at the seahorse ranch last about one hour and cost about $40. There are three tours a day, Monday through Friday. Note that there are no tours on weekends. Tour information and tickets are available on the Ocean Rider website: http://seahorse.com/shop/Ocean-Rider-Hawaii-Tour-Tickets/
Guided by a biologist, you’ll learn lots of information about seahorses and you’ll get up close and personal with them. The seahorses are raised in big tanks fed by Hawaiian seawater. Some of the tanks have tiny baby seahorses and many are full of intertwining adults.
Hold a Seahorse
At the end of the tour you’ll have the chance to hold a live seahorse. (Actually it’s more like the seahorse holding you). After placing your hands in the tank, a biologist will gently hook the seahorse tail around your finger. Feeling the tail of your contented seahorse as she rests on your hand is well worth the price of admission.
How to Find the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm
Getting to the seahorse farm is easy, but it may look hard as you make your way there. The seahorse farm is located at Kona’s Natural Energy Lab campus. This business park is the site of a former government study that experimented with pumping deep sea water to create energy. The energy experiment is over but the pumps remain, feeding commercial enterprises from algae harvesting to abalone farms and the seahorse ranch.
Driving into the park feels a little like Area 51 but don’t let that deter you. Be sure to take a look at the directions on the Seahorse Farm website before you go: http://seahorse.com/location-facilities/ocean-rider-location-facilities , and watch for the blue signs that say “Seahorse Farm” along the road.
The Gift Shop
One other thing to know about the seahorse farm is they have a great little gift shop. And if you visit a seahorse ranch how can you not get a souvenir? The shop has Tshirts, mugs, jewelry, and much more at really nice quality and decent pricing.
For more information about Kona’s Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm, visit www.Seahorse.com
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